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Friday, September 19, 2014

Changing from Travel Mode to Vacation Mode in Jamaica


We left off in part 1 with challenges on getting the room we paid for on arrival at the Luxury Bahia Principe (LBP) in Runaway Bay, Jamaica. With that behind us, it's time for vacation...


Watch the Video!




25 years ago, my wife and I spent a week at Eden II not far from the spot we're at now. It was $1100 for each of us, all inclusive. This week is costing us $1300 each, not a bad rate of inflation over a quarter century.  Of course, back then much more was included in our all-inclusive experience: a tour to Dunn's River Falls, transportation into Ocho Rios for shopping, sailing, golfing...all which must have met the budget ax over time.



Here at the LBP, we still get all we can eat and drink...including a la carte dining at the resort's themed restaurants every day(the other side of the hotel just gets a couple of nights of a la carte during their stay)...a hour of water sports equipment checkout each day, entertainment, butler service (which we never used), and a few separate facilities (you can check out a more extensive list in part 1).



Dinner last night was at Dolce Vita, an Italian restaurant about a half mile walk from our room. It was good.  I had the saltimboca, which was more of a very good steak, and Tim and Letty had pasta dishes.

A common complaint here is that they keep the temperature too high inside the restaurants. For us coming from the north, it may feel warm but I think it's probably pretty comfortable for the locals that work here.

We're starting off by doing mornings at the pool and moving to the beach in the afternoon.  LBP has three pools that look like one, big, quarter mile long pool.  



Next to our building, the east end of the pool is reserved for the LBP guests and red-shirted security guards are there to enforce that.  Have a pink armband and you're OK. Any other color will get you deported to what we took to calling the riff raff pool.

Our special section also included our own bar with a slightly better selection of liquors and a better bartender but we could also float under the bridge into the riff raff pool and sidle up to the swim up bar. 



That was nice but I got tired of having to explain to the bartenders there how to make each drink I was ordering.  After a couple of days, we pretty much gave up on the swim up bar. Especially after a server on the other side named Kayann adopted us and brought us a tray of drinks every time we showed up to the pool without even asking.

Yes, for all the complaints I have about the front office staff, the front line staff were outstanding.

We take Tim to a wading platform on the riff raff side and gingerly...and not entirely successful...try to ease him into an inner tube.  We got it after much slipping and sliding.  Then, it was just a couple of hours lounging in the clear water with occasional cruises over to the Island of Happiness...our name for the swim up bar.



After a while, we made it to the end of the pool closest to our room and noticed that the pool got gradually shallower and shallower.  Hey, this is a giant ramp into the pool!  After that, getting Tim into the pool and his inner tube was just a matter of wheeling him in as far as his manual chair would go, popping the tube over his legs, standing him up, and letting go.

It made things much, much easier.

After the morning swim, we head over to the beach which is quite a hike away. Probably close to a mile from our room.

Again, the accessibility here is very good. Although quite a walk, it's a very smooth route for the wheelchair, including the hard-packed sand path that the utility vehicles used to service the bars along the beach. It makes for a good, accessible route to the beach for the chair.



The LBP has it's own private section so we set up a base station under a palapa and some trees.  A server keeps our glasses full of rum punch and we go for cooling laps in the warm water of the bay.

It's shallow and clear but I still can't get Tim to go in the water, especially after I show him a video of some stingrays that I took.

The hotel offers free loans of snorkeling equipment (again, quite a walk away from where we are sitting) but there's a $50 cash deposit required that you lose if you don't bring it back in an hour. I didn't know about the deposit and didn't bring $50 with me to the beach so I just bought a cheap pair of goggles from the gift shop and charged to the room.



The water was clear, maybe not quite as clear as when we went to Puerto Vallarta (Conchas Chinas beach) or Maui, but still the clearest we've yet seen in the Caribbean.

Along with the rays, we see an array of tropical fish on coral encrusted rocks and sea urchins. It's quite a sight.

We did adjust our schedule as the week went on to go to the beach in the mornings and migrating to the pool in the afternoons so we'd be as close to our room as possible at the end of the day when we've tired ourselves out.



The Jerk Bar was next to our beach so after a morning of swimming with the rays and the other guests, we regain our strength with heaping plates of Jamaica's national dish. 



It was incredibly delicious.

Hanging out at the beach and pool while drinking the day away was not the only adventures we had on the island. Stay tuned for part three where we strike out beyond the hotel's gate to see what mischief we can find.

Darryl
Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Photos Copyright 2014 - Letty Musick
All Rights Reserved

Monday, September 15, 2014

Trying to Get to Jamaica is Trying


Twenty five years ago, my beautiful wife and I traveled to the island of Jamaica. Tim, being all of two years old at the time, stayed behind with my parents.


Watch the Video!




We went to Eden II, and all-inclusive that was eventually bought out by the Sandals chain. The particular property is today part of the Jewel family of resorts.



Back then, all-inclusive not only meant all the food and drink you could absorb but also tours, golf outings, and more. The entertainment offerings were endless (see our picture of Toga Party night, above. That's Letty and me on the right) and "no tipping" meant that the staff would actually refuse your offer of a gratuity.

It was a wonderful trip.

A quarter century later, we're returning. This time, Tim is now a Caribbean veteran but making his first landing on Jamaican soil.

While years ago, we could take a nonstop six and a half hour flight from LAX to Montego Bay, today it's a five hour layover in Miami before a hour and a half jump to the island (I was offered a 30 minute layover, which might have worked, but it's not prudent to actually plan for such a short change over) on American Airlines.

Arriving at Sangster International Airport, it's nice to see that the airport has installed jetways. It makes getting Tim off the plane and into his wheelchair easier.  A porter is assigned to take us through immigration.  Tim and Letty are allowed to bypass the line (one person can go with the wheechair) while I had to stand in the half-hour long line and face a very dour immigration examiner.  Don't really know what this achieves since we already have to wait for everybody on the plane to disembark before us...everybody else already has an advantage over us because of that.

Finally, clearing immigration we're ready to go!  Until we see the line for customs. Fortunately, this one moves faster and we're off to claim our rental car from Hertz.

There are wheelchair accessible taxis you can book ahead of time but there is a significant extra charge for an accessible taxi over a regular one.  It's also more expensive to hire one for an accessible tour over regular tour operators. In the end for us, it's about the same amount to rent a car. We do this so we can make our own tour and not be at the mercy of anyone else for transportation.

Here are two wheelchair accessible taxi and tour operators for you:

Ken's Wheelchair Service and Tours

Jamaica Exquisite Tours



It takes us just under an hour to arrive at our hotel, the Luxury Bahia Principe at Runaway Bay (LBP). The LBP is an annex to the Gran Bahia Principe that offers extra amenities such as butler service, unlimited a la carte dining, separate beach and pool facilities, private wifi lounge, and separate bar and buffet dining facilities to mention a few.

By the time we arrive, it's been about 20 hours since we left our home in California. We're tired, a bit cranky, and in need of showers and rest.  I just want a key to our room and to lay down.

That wouldn't be the LBP way, however. We paid for the Don Pablo experience (as they call it), by gosh, they're going to make sure we get it whether we want it or not. 

We're told to wait in the lobby for an escort. Twenty minutes later, the same guy says he can't find one so he escorts us to the exclusive LBP welcome center. There, we wait until there are five parties waiting to check in.

Champagne is handed out and a smartly fitted out representative shows us a package that we will get in our room. A printout of all our amenities and a map of the property will be given to us. Then she proceeds to read each one at a time, and explain each one. 

Really, I just want to go to the room. I can't even get my brain to sort out anything she's saying. Finally, she's done.  Now it's time to go to the room?

No...go into the adjacent lounge, have a cocktail, and someone will be along to escort you to your room shortly.



About ten minutes later, finally, a bell woman shows up with our luggage and takes us up to our room, only she takes us to a lesser wing with sub-par views. 

"This isn't the room we booked."

"It's all we have, we're all booked up."

"It's the nadir of the low season, it doesn't look to be that crowded. Surely, something else is available."

"You can request to be moved back downstairs."

When we get in the room, I tell her to just sit the bags down. I am not going to unpack until we get this straightened out.

Going back downstairs, I log onto the hotel's website while we're waiting to talk to somebody. I put in a request for 4 rooms (the maximum) for tonight to see what would happen. They have plenty of space available.

I bring this up to the rep, she says I'm wrong.  She shifts us to the reservations manager, who also says the same thing. My wife gets a little perturbed and says she feels like we're getting the run around. The manager assures us that she is doing her best to make us happy.

"It sure doesn't feel like it," comes the curt reply from my normally quiet spouse.

"Come back tomorrow morning at 10:30 to 11:00 and we'll see if we can find a better room for you."



Back upstairs, we find that in addition to the view, the shower drain is loose (creating an injury hazard), the shower door won't close (flooding the room when you took a shower), and the balcony door wouldn't lock, In addition, they outfitted the room for two guests instead of three (two towels, two washcloths, etc.).

...

One of the perks is unlimited dining at the themed a la carte restaurants. These are sit down, waiter served dining experiences as opposed to the buffet. You have to adhere to a dress code and many guests consider this a highlight of the trip.

"As a courtesy, we have made reservations for you for each night," we were told at check in.

They did, but not at times that were good for us so we went down at 8:00 the next morning, as instructed, to make changes that would suit us better. 

Those changes were made with no problems, then the woman said "you're the family that wants to be moved, correct?"

We affirmed that we were. "We have a room for you that is much better with the view you're looking for."  

Great! When can we move in?

"Change into your swimwear, bring your luggage down here, enjoy the day at the pool, and come back at 3:00."

Well, wasn't really planning to spend the whole day at the pool but we'll comply and see what happens.

At 3:20, we return. Damp, a bit sunburned, sweaty, and in serious need of a shower.

"The room is not ready yet."

"You said 3:00."

"Please...sit in the lounge, have a drink and we'll be with you shortly."

So three transient-looking people saunter over to the lounge among the newly arrived to wait for the next step. 

At 4:00, I wander back over and stand in front of the rep's desk. After a few minutes of pretending I'm not there, she asks if I'm waiting for her.

"I've been very patiently waiting for our new room all day. I think it's time something happened."

Without another word...not one...she picks up the phone, dials and asks "is 603 ready yet?"

When she hangs up, she says we'll be shown up to our room now.  



Finally, we're taken up to our new room, with a beautiful view of the pool and beach.  We unpack, shower, and get ready for our first dinner at the Italian a la carte restaurant.  It's been a long, trying 36-or-so hours since we left our house and gotten the room we paid for.



Stay tuned to see how the rest of the trip will shape up.

Darryl
Copyright 2014 - All Rights Reserved
Darryl Musick

Photos Copyright 2014 - All Rights Reserved
Letty Musick

Sunday, September 14, 2014

THE COCKTAIL HOUR: The Runaway


Greetings from Jamaica! This week's cocktail is our latest invention, the Runaway.

A little background...when we travel, and especially if we have a comped in-room minibar...we like to play around with it and invent a cocktail from the ingredients within.
WATCH THE VIDEO!


This week, we're at the all-inclusive Luxury Bahia Principe resort in Runaway Bay, Jamaica. Our minibar includes a massive bottle of rum, some Coke, Sprite, orange soda, and beer. We augmented this by visiting a nearby market to get some coconut water, lime juice, and orange/pineapple juice.

Using our resort's location for the name, here's what we came up with.

INGREDIENTS

splash of lime juice
splash of coconut water
1 oz. gold rum
1 oz. orange/pineapple juice
top off with orange soda

Mix all ingredients in an ice-filled cup and enjoy.

Cheers!

Darryl

Friday, September 12, 2014

Visiting Wine Country - A Wine Buyer's Manifesto


Take a shot glass. Put half an ounce of water in it. Pour it in a wine glass. That tiny bit of liquid is what you usually get when you get a taste of wine in a tasting room. 
No problem…wineries aren’t bars and they don’t want their patrons getting drunk and driving around on the rural roads that usually appear in wine country (by the way, you’re not supposed to swallow it...you’re supposed to taste it and spit it out into the bucket provided so the alcohol doesn’t erode your sense of taste).
We love wine here at The World on Wheels. We love that, in our biased opinion, we live in the greatest wine producing area in the world.
Many of our trips involve wine tasting and drinking. Some are even taken just to taste the wine and we usually come home with at least two cases of wine in our trunk.
Winery owners…take note of that last sentence above…at least two cases, a lot of the time, even more.  Now, let me tell you how you’re killing the golden goose…wine buyers like me.
Here are the reasons that I’m really starting to sour on going to wineries for tasting and wine buying…



Exorbitant tasting fees.  Wine tasting used to be free. This perk is fast diminishing.  Then it became a token fee, to dissuade from getting plastered and driving down those narrow country lanes.
Let’s face it, a $5 fee isn’t going to break the bank and, if you let me apply that price to my purchase, not a problem.  The problem comes when I go to a winery, they charge $12 to $20, or more,for 5 small sips (the minimum going rate in many wine destinations these days) and then tell me I can’t apply that amount to my purchase.  First, I’ll probably look you in the eye, say “are you serious?”, and turn around and walk out when I find you are. Second, I won't be back and I won't be buying your wine.
I usually visit 5 or more wineries a day. I’m not going to pay $24 or more (for at least my wife and myself) at each stop for the “privilege” of sampling wine (see the first paragraph for how much of a taste you get) at each one, especially if I can’t use that amount for my purchase.
High Wine Prices.  I realize that some wines are so good, so lovingly had crafted with great care by the winemaker that they justify quite a premium. However, I just paid for the gas to drive my butt up to your vineyard, to (probably) pay for the “experience” of tasting your wine. I just saved you plenty in shipping costs alone. I don’t want to pay $25 a bottle for your wine, then drive down the hill and see it on the shelf of Albertson’s for $6.99.  If they can sell it to me for that price, you sure can too.



Wine Clubs. The latest lame excuse to extract more money from winery customers to get them to buy more.  I don’t know of any winery that doesn’t have a wine club these days.  The come on is “join our wine club and you’ll get free perks” like free tasting, discounts on wine, and other special promotions. The catch is that you’ll have to buy at least a couple of bottles of wine that they select for club members that are not cheap, and pay for shipping if you don’t live nearby, several times a year. On average, with shipping, this will cost you at least $60 for each two bottle shipment.
At many wineries, this is the only way you’ll get a discount and that is usually measley…something on the order of 10% per case. Hell, my local Ralph’s offers me a 30% discount on 6 bottles now, how is this supposed to entice me – especially if you just have a few selections of wine that I’ll get over and over?  And am I expected to join every winery’s club?  All 3,300+ in California?
Give me a meaningful case discount without having to join an expensive club. Give me a club where I don’t have to pay (Sobon Estate, for example, only asks for your e-mail address to join the club and get a 20% case discount).


Or if you absolutely must have a club, why don’t you join forces with other wineries in your area and have a regional wine club? Can you imagine what a wine club featuring selections from all the Sonoma wineries would be like?
(NOTE: There are several independent wine clubs that get wine from all over the world and not charge you an arm and a leg for the privilege – one I’m a member of and highly recommend is The Wine of the Month Club in Monrovia, California.)
Nightclub Atmosphere. Recently, on a wine tasting adventure, we stepped into a winery tasting room. It was like entering a disco. Loud live band, crowded, dancing, complete with bartender wiping down a spot saying “twelve dollars each, what’ll you have?” Turned around and walked out. If you’re going to foster that kind of atmosphere, just stop calling yourself a winery and say you’re a bar or nightclub.



Okay, now that I’ve listed my biggest pet peeves, know that I still find some outstanding examples of wineries that mostly do it right. Props go to the wineries of Amador County – home of some of the best red wines on earth – for scoffing at the idea of charging for tasting, at least for now (though a couple of pretentious newcomers are trying to change that); Galleano for hanging on by a thread, charging a modest fee ($5) that can be applied to their very inexpensive and delicious selections (they’ll even give you a coupon to have a glass of their wine at a local Basque restaurant); and the increasingly hard to find, honest winemakers of California that prefer to let their wine to the talking before you open your wallet.
For the rest of you, please take some of this commentary to heart. I’d like to enjoy trips to the wine country again.
-Darryl
Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Monday, September 8, 2014

Adventures Close to Home: Riverside, California - Part 2


Click this link for Riverside, Part 1.

Farmer Boys is a fast food chain in California and Nevada. Just around the corner from our hotel, the Mission Inn, is their corporate headquarters. Next door to that is their flagship store.

Seems like a fitting place to have a quick breakfast so, armed with coupons we received before leaving home, we have a nice plate of French toast and eggs before heading out for the day.


Watch the Video!

We’ll need the energy because we’re climbing a mountain.  Well, mountain might be ambitious…more like a hill…but it’s called a mountain here…Mount Rubidoux.

About ½ a mile due west of the hotel, Mt. Rubidoux has long been a landmark here. Bought by Frank Miller, owner of the Mission Inn at the time, it was used for Easter sunrise services and eventually donated to the city.


Cars used to be able to drive to the summit on a one-way, narrow road.  They’d go up on the north side and descend on the south side. Autos were banned in 1992 but those beautifully paved roads means this is a wheelchair-ready climb.

There are two entrances to the park. The north entrance has no parking so we enter via the south gate which has limited parking and a wheelchair ramp around the gate.


Fellow hikers tell us that the north road is not as steep as the south road so where the two roads meet just a little way up the trail, we switch over to the north road.  Tim tells me that the power meter on his chair has gone down by one bar. No problem, he still has eight left.

The trail winds up through a desert landscape of scrub, cacti, and succulents. Many large rocks also jut out of the ground. At a mile Tim tells me he’s lost another bar.

At a mile and a quarter, Tim…who keeps stopping to check the power meter and starting back up…says he’s lost another one.  I explain to him that all that starting and stopping uses a lot more power than if he were to keep going and not to worry about it unless the power meter turns yellow instead of green.


He keeps going without the constant stop and go. About 2/3 of the way up, we cross over from the east side of the mountain to the west side. We’re treated to views of the Santa Ana River (the river that Riverside is on the side of) and a small airport in the distance. It’s kind of neat to see airplanes flying below you as they enter the pattern for the landing strip.



Near the summit, Tim tells me his power meter has gone yellow. Not wanting to take chances, we stop here. I’ll stay and keep Tim company while Letty will continue to the top and take pictures.



While Tim and I watch planes land below, Letty gets some great pictures at the top.



Here is a bridge where the road winds over itself.



A flag has been planted at the top, with downtown Riverside providing a backdrop.


At the peak, a large cross has been erected.

After Letty gets to the top and back to Tim and I, we head back down.  There’s a saddle not too far from where we waited where Tim and I can get similar views to the top.



We take a few minutes to see the sight and then head back down to the car where it’s back to the hotel.



A short rest and then we’re out to greet the Zombie Apocalypse…



Next to the hotel is the Main Street pedestrian mall. Usually, a quiet place to get a bite to eat or browse for antiques, today it is taken over by hordes of the undead.



It’s the 2nd Annual Zombie Crawl where Riversides most unlively citizens come out to show their moves and try to gross out the living.

Groups have dance offs in the middle of the plaza…mostly to the tune of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”…and compete for the best zombie makeup effects.  There’s even a little workshop on how to do different zombie walks, from the fresh out of the grave shuffle to the running zombie.



It’s all good fun though Tim had to fend off a few zombies trying to eat his brain. We’ll take refuge in the hotel for now.

We’ve got a show to go to but first it’s dinner. Our hotel package came with valet parking and a $50 credit.  The parking has been used over and over. Now, to use that credit.



There are four restaurants at the hotel…Duane’s for steaks, Las Campanas for Mexican (great margaritas, too), Bella Trattoria for Italian…and, our choice, the Mission Inn Restaurant for a little of them all dining under the stars in the beautiful main courtyard.



We start off this this great and different bread basket.



The food is pretty special. While Tim had a basic penne dish, Letty had this fresh fish dish.



I had this savory and juicy roast chicken with some very creamy mashed potatoes.



Well fed, we make our way across the street to the recently restored Fox Theater. Tonight, we’re going to see The Mavericks in concert, who have recently reunited with their singer, Raul Malo.



It’s a great, rocking show but the wheelchair seats are not raised very high so whenever the people in front of us feel like standing up and dancing, which is fairly often, it blocks Tim’s view. He’s not very bothered by it but Letty sure is.



Still, it’s a good show and we have a good time.  We end the night with a bottle of wine back in our roomy, Mission Inn Suite and savor the end of another trip.


Darryl
Copyright 2012 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Cocktail Hour...Strange Brew - The Finale!


It's time to wrap up this trilogy. I made it my project to brew a batch of Belgian style dubbel ale.


Watch the Video!


 


I brewed and fermented it in Part 1.

I filtered and bottled it in Part 2.

Now it's time to see how I did. Tim joins me as we crack open a couple of bottles on New Year's Eve. It tasted very, very good but...

You'll need to watch the video to see how it turned out.



Cheers and Happy New Year everybody!

Darryl
Copyright 2013 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Friday, September 5, 2014

Adventures Close to Home - Riverside, California


We tend to take our local area for granted, don’t we? Anything within an hour’s drive seems like home to us and just doesn’t pop up on our travel radar.



People don’t go to Riverside, California from Los Angeles unless they have a reason to. Same with me…in good traffic, it’s less than an hour’s drive. Heck, I’ve worked in downtown Riverside off and on for the last ten years periodically.  I know what’s there…don’t I? I don’t need to go there on a vacation …do I?

Watch the Video!



Apparently, I don’t know as much as I thought. A recent weekend in the city had us begging to come back for more.
Originally, this was supposed to be a trip to Scottsdale. The peg for the trip was to see the Mavericks…one of our favorite bands…who have recently reunited with singer Raul Malo.  They were playing at the Arizona State Fair this week and it made for a convenient excuse to go.


Recently, however, the band added a couple of shows closer to home. Even though the prices are more expensive here in California, our recent spate of $5-per-gallon gas prices had us re-evaluating. It was also enticing that we’d be able to see our concert in a 1,600 seat theater from the 9th row rather than an 18,000 seat arena.
I’m saving a ton of money by going local for two nights instead of four nights in Arizona.  Works out about the same time to do things when you factor in that we don’t have to have two all day drives to get there and back. Riverside is less than an hour.


Since I am saving so much money on gas, food, and hotel, I’m able to splurge on a suite at the historic and beautiful Mission Inn Hotel and Spa, where I’m able to book their “Fall Back in Time” promotion which includes a $50 resort credit and free valet parking.
Before check-in, though, we exit at Holt off of the 60 freeway. The roofs of warehouses stretch out for a mile in front of us. Hard to imagine anything worth stopping here for.

A quick right turn leads us onto a bumpy and rutted road, filled with eighteen wheelers. A dusty and dilapidated auction on the right, a Costco warehouse on the left, and then the road I’m looking for , Wineville.


It’s a stop back in time at the Galleano Winery in Mira Loma, a few acres of farm that time forgot wedged here between the freeways, factories, and warehouses.  Although it’s been here longer than any of them, it seems wildly out of place.



Some tastes of their award-winning varieties, buying up some of their great and cheap Chianti and old vine zinfandel, and we’re back on our way. (You can see and read more about the incredible Galleano and Fillipi Wineries in our report, “California’s Hidden Wine Country”)


With a little time to kill once we get to our destination, we head to the corner of Magnolia and Arlington for a historic and easily overlooked landmark. There are three citrus trees fenced in a tiny little grove here, a grapefruit tree and two navel orange trees.


While I don’t know what the significance is of the grapefruit tree or the smaller orange tree, the larger of the navel trees has a bit history behind it. This is the Parent Navel Orange Tree.


Navel oranges are famously seedless, therefore you can’t propagate them sexually. Instead, they must be cloned by cuttings or grafting. The old tree, brought here in 1870 from Bahia, Brazil, is the tree that spawned all of the other navel orange trees in California, creating a huge industry.




Somehow, it still survives after all these years, although a second tree transplanted to the Mission Inn by President Teddy Roosevelt didn’t live long after that misbegotten attempt to create a tourist attraction.



Speaking of the Mission Inn, we are now driving under the arched entrance to the valet parking area. A tall, dapper man in a crisply pressed suit opens our door and asks the purpose of our visit. We tell him we’re staying there the next few nights and he says “welcome home!”


As we exit the van, Troy…the man who greeted us…needles Tim about is St. Louis Cardinals shirt because they’re contending against the Giants for the National League pennant while we’re there.
Check-in’s a breeze and soon we’re off to the second floor to see our room.


Junior Suite doesn’t mean the same thing here as it does at other hotels. I’m used to it meaning a small barrier between the bed and couch and “suite” being more a term of wishful thinking than anything else. Here, it’s an actual suite with a big bedroom completely separated from the living room area by two doors.
The room also features a large, queen size sofabed, a walk-in closet, two large flat screen TVs (that don’t have HD channels, unfortunately), decent bathroom with high end toiletries, and a semi private patio.


The hotel is enough of a historic landmark that a highlight is just exploring the many passageways, nooks and crannies, and hidden surprises around each corner such as 800 year old bells, a 6-story colonnaded rotunda, chapel with original Tiffany stained glass windows, and more.
It’s like spending the night in the Winchester House except without the ghosts.


For a late lunch, we head around the corner to La Cascada, with provides us a decent Mexican lunch.
We come back to do a little more exploring…finding the rooftop garden, the California history themed glockenspiel, hidden patios next to rooms that have housed presidents.


The sparkling swimming pool, in a bougainvillea shrouded patio at the front of the hotel, is inviting on this warm day but we didn’t bring our swim suits. We do notice, however, that there is a lift so that disabled people can get in easily too.



We’ll remember this for next time. For now, it’s time to relax a little bit and get ready for tomorrow where we’ll climb a mountain, run into hordes of zombies, and go to our concert.

Part two is coming soon…
Darryl
Copyright 2012 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved